USC baseball coach Chad Holbrook had a good feeling about putting sophomore infielder DC Arendas into the Opening Day lineup.
Arendas had 14 at-bats last season, but he came back for fall practice and led the team in hitting. He battled for the shortstop position with Marcus Mooney, but when Holbrook decided to use Mooney there Saturday, he knew he had to find a spot for Arendas.
It worked out well. Arendas, who served as the designated hitter in the first game and played third base in the nightcap, had four hits in seven at-bats with two walks — a day that included a two-run homer, the first of his career.
“He has a knack for giving you a good at-bat,” Holbrook said. “He deserved to play today.”
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Arendas was thankful for the opportunity and wanted to take advantage.
“In a position like that, you can only focus on what you can control,” he said. “Baseball’s a funny game. You’re going to hit some balls hard that are going to get caught, and you’re going to hit some dinkers that are going to fall. Coming to the field every day with the mindset of how we can help this team win is what we’re going to focus on.”
In the pen
Former USC star pitcher Michael Roth began his career in the bullpen. Now it’s named after him.
Charlotte attorney Billy Moore, a USC alum, donated $100,000 to dedicate the Gamecocks’ bullpen at Carolina Stadium in honor of the left-hander who helped lead the program to two national titles.
“I’ve been a South Carolina fan since 1976. I have followed baseball ever since,” Moore said. “Michael Roth was a really big part of the two big national championships, and I just thought it was appropriate to name the bullpen after him.”
Athletics director Ray Tanner, who coached Roth, agreed.
“It’s very exciting. Billy Moore and his family are great baseball fans,” Tanner said. “This is a great day for us. The family and their generosity have come forward to help our baseball program.”
In the pen again
Holbrook praised the work of his relievers, including freshman right-hander Taylor Widener in the first game and sophomore right-hander Curt Britt and sophomore left-hander Vince Fiori in the second game.
The coach appreciates the depth the bullpen offers and how good it potentially can be.
“It isn’t going to be (good) because of one All-American. It’s going to have to be a group,” he said. “That’s what I see right now. Together they can have a special season.”
Despite all the snow and ice earlier in the week, Carolina Stadium looked picture-perfect — both the playing surface and the stands. Holbrook was thrilled by the job done by the stadium and grounds crews.
“They put a lot of time and effort into allowing us to get these two games so we want to thank those guys,” he said.
Holbrook laughed about experiencing his first earthquake, comparing it to blasts at the quarry near Carolina Stadium.
“This whole place shakes,” he said. “It felt just like that.”